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Cause-oriented party-lists likely to endorse Villar
In The Press Posted on November 19th, 2009.
MANILA, Philippines - Left-leaning party-list groups, which claim a voter base of three million, are likely to endorse the presidential candidacy of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.
This possibility surfaced after presidential survey leader Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party failed to offer any of the militant party-list representatives a slot in his Senate slate.
Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna told the Serye Café news forum in Quezon City yesterday that he and his militant colleagues had a dialogue with Aquino and other LP leaders on Wednesday night.
“They told us that they have only two to three remaining slots in their senatorial ticket but that the list of applicants is long,” he said.
By contrast, Ocampo, who is eyeing a senatorial run, said Villar has a standing offer for NP to accommodate two party-list representatives.
He said he would discuss with his colleagues the offer and would announce their decision next week.
Asked if in case they decide to run under the NP banner they would endorse Villar, Ocampo gave an affirmative answer.
Aside from Ocampo, Rep. Liza Maza of Gabriela is eyeing a Senate seat.
Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anak Pawis, and their youth organization Kabataan have a combined eight seats in the House of Representatives.
In the latest Pulse Asia survey, Ocampo, a former communist leader, did better than two of Aquino’s senatorial choices. He obtained a rating of five percent, placing him in the 32-47 ranking.
Former Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta received a rating of 1.7 percent (48-65 ranking), while Rep. Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan obtained 3.9 percent (36 to 55).
Acosta is still facing a case with the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly giving funds to a foundation run by family members when he was a congressman.
He and Hontiveros, together with Rep. Teofisto Guingona III, also of Bukidnon, are assured of slots in the LP senatorial ticket.
Ocampo said former Sen. Wigberto Tañada arranged their meeting with Aquino and other LP leaders.
“You have to talk to the left,” he quoted Tañada as telling the LP standard-bearer.
“I think Noynoy still harbors a grudge against us,” he said.
He recalled that in 2005, when he and Aquino were both congressmen, Aquino called him when some militants picketed the Aquino residence along Times street in Quezon City.
“I rushed to their house and asked the picketers to disperse, though we had nothing to do with it. Mrs. Cory (the late President Aquino) then received me and we talked for a while before we agreed to travel together to Makati where we called for President Arroyo’s resignation,” he said.
Settling for vice president
Ocampo also told the news forum that Sen. Francis Escudero, who was eyeing the presidency before leaving the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), is now planning a vice presidential run.
“He sent word that he is sliding down to the vice presidency,” Ocampo said.
Sought for comment, Rep. Florencio Noel of the party-list group An Waray confirmed Ocampo’s information.
“He is running for vice president as an independent. He will make an announcement next week,” he said.
Escudero’s vice presidential run will pit him against NPC colleague Sen. Loren Legarda, who is the running mate of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.
Ocampo, who belongs to the House minority which Escudero led when he was a congressman, said they had met with his former minority leader to discuss his presidential ambition after he left NPC.
“We told him that although we are a sizeable group, he cannot rely on us as his presidential machinery,” he said.
“Besides, how could he associate himself with militant party-list groups when he has renounced association with any political party or group?” he asked.
Besides Legarda, Escudero will do battle with another Senate colleague, Mar Roxas, who is the running mate of Sen. Noynoy Aquino of LP.
Since Escudero’s decision to desert NPC, his party mates have shifted their support to other presidential candidates.
Up to 12 NPC congressmen have committed to support resigned Defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. of Lakas-Kampi.
Another Escudero supporter, Rep. Mujiv Hataman of Anak Mindanao, who is running for governor of Basilan, has joined Aquino’s camp.
Race between Noynoy, Villar
Though admitting he is biased, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said yesterday the race in the 2010 elections would narrow down between the LP and the NP.
“This is a very biased assessment because I am supporting Manny Villar. I think of course that the biggest contender would still be Noynoy (Aquino) from the Liberal Party. And Noynoy has a lot of sentimental support coming from the friends and colleagues of his late father and mother,” Pimentel said, referring to the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino.
“But that said I think that it is Manny Villar who has the best organization. My perception is that Manny Villar is better organized than anyone in the provinces and in the cities,” Pimentel said.
He said the problem of former President Joseph Estrada is the fact that he might be disqualified. “I know my son (defeated senatorial candidate Aquilino Pimentel III) contradicts me on this.My opinion is that he is in danger. Let us just put that in that manner. He is in danger of being disqualified and therefore the fight will eventually narrow down to Villar and what’s his name? Noynoy,” Pimentel said.
LP and NP have also been so far winning followers from different parties.
LP president and vice presidential candidate Roxas said “the forces for change and true reform” had become dominant nationwide.
Roxas expressed elation with the fact that the local leaders of the three biggest cities in Metro Manila – Quezon City, Manila and Caloocan – have pledged their support to the LP and its Aquino-Roxas presidential tandem.
“This is not just about Noynoy or me. This is about our collective thirst for change, our desire to end the tayo-tayo system, the greed, the traditional and transactional politics in our country,” Roxas added.
In Quezon City, which has more than one million voters, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, Vice Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista and Joy Belmonte were sworn in as new Liberals yesterday. Bautista and Joy will be running for mayor and vice mayor, respectively, while Mayor Belmonte will run for Congress.
In Caloocan City, which has more than 580,000 voters, Caloocan City Mayor Enrico “Recom” Echiverri swore before the LP banner.
Earlier in Manila, which has almost a million voters, Manila Mayor Fred Lim’s Laban-KKK party entered into a coalition with the LP.
Local executives all over the country have also endorsed the Aquino-Roxas tandem.
Unfazed by surveys
Villar and Legarda stressed they are unfazed by the recent surveys showing their rivals Aquino and Roxas leading the presidential and vice presidential race.
On the poll survey results showing that their Liberal Party rivals were ahead in the polls, Villar pointed out that the gap has been narrowing.
Villar said Aquino’s high ratings were part of the euphoria that was a result of the death of former President Cory Aquino.
In the latest Pulse Asia survey, Aquino remained an overwhelming favorite to win next year’s presidential polls.
Aquino continued to dominate presidential polls, leading by a big margin over Villar, Pulse Asia’s October survey on Filipinos’ preferences for the May 2010 elections showed.
Aquino attracted 44 percent support in a poll of preferred presidents, with Villar a distant second with 19 percent. – With Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez